Letter to Eliza Quilty from Julia E. Crafts
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- Correspondence, Quilty, Elizabeth "Eliza", United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865, Rural families - Vermont, Letters, Manuscripts
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Charleston March 23rd 1866,
This is the first spare moment
that i have had for some time, but now be- gin to feel a little more settled, had been some- time before this house hunting, and at last found the one that i now occupy. it is small but very pleasantly situated in the western portion of our city - entirly [sic] open to the sea breeze. Homes are very scarce and rents [sic] dreadful high = and almost every thing in proportioni = There must be a decline in prices some where for the salarys [sic] paid our gentlemen are not sufficient for them to meet their expenses, of course there are a great many exceptions, it tis of men with large familys [sic] that I speak = of course the people are still paying dare (dear?) = For being so hasty in the beginning of this war = and will have to suffer yet more = , persons that once lived in large splendid dwellings = are now compelled to rent = them, and occupy small ones that they rented out = the news from the country is very cheering as regards the Freedman working and if they will only contineu [sic], after a while all = will go right= it is cotton and rice
that will put all things straight again
Northern gentleman _ a great many here come out here with means = have taken some of our plantations in handii = and report the Darkees [sic] doing well = hundreds of our Country Negroes since the vacuationsiii have died of course left to themselves = they naturally breed sickness, although if one is reported sick = they are immediately taken to the Hospital and every care taken of them = the smallpox has made sad havoc among them,iv i could not help laughing the other day = I met a girl I knew = and she never could say that she was fancys painted lass = she had the smallpox and was awfully pitted almost to disfigure her for life, with a thick green veil on = said she never would go out without it againv = not being accustomed to the delicate = gauze over her chiseled features, could hardly walk = however they will soon learn to see, as they will have to work; To day is such a beautiful day nature itself seems happy and gay = our peach trees wear a pink mantle so very thick with blossoms, and our first crop of figs is as large as your thimble = if we
have no more cold snap next month our fruit will be very early = our green pea is 5 or 6 inches high = we have not had rain for some time now = the cisterns are nearly all dry= although with April comes her gentle showers = so many people here come back home now that King streetvi where most all our dry goods business is done = is crowded with Ladies = dressed with some style and tast [sic] = a great many strangers on visits here = most all seem delighted with our climate = W. Quiltyvii is still with us quite well. got a letter from home last night says that he will not be so negligent in writing again will write more frequent. I am glad that you were so successful with your fair = they are removing the old bricks and stones from the Cathedralviii = in Broad St. to try and rebuild = may they be prosperous = it was a grand ornament to our city = now that things are quiet = our Sisters of Mercyix will have a fair, next month or sooner maybe = if nothing happens = it is visited by all with feelings of pleasure = I have written you a long letter, you must do the same when you write me = hoping this will find your mother and all well = as this leaves
With much affection Your friend
Julia E Crafts
i The Confederate government issued a great deal of currency, totaling $1.5B at the time. As the South began to lose the war, many also lost faith in the Southern currency, causing high inflation. For instance, between 1862 and 1865, the price of wheat rose 17 times. The effects of this high inflation continued in 1866.
ii Often referred to as “carpetbaggers,” many Northerners came to the South in search of economic gain, either through working on the land, or in this case, purchasing or leasing the many run-down plantations. At first, many of the Southerners were pleased with the inflow of capital, but eventually saw them as simply attempting to profit from their economic downturn. iii Vacuations refers to former slaves leaving the plantations once the North had won the war, however, many died thereafter due to disease or the hardship of living on their own. iv Charleston was hit especially hard with the spread of smallpox after the war. Many of those sick were former slaves, many of which did not receive sufficient treatment due to unsanitary conditions or indifference from health officials. In 1866, Freedmans Bureau doctors noted that patients were suffering due to lack of adequate bedding.Furthermore, the disease put a damper on productivity as several doctors described how the smallpox had slowed much of the planting that was scheduled for that year tremendously. v Many small pox patients that survived the disease were left with scars. To hide the pock marks, many women would wear veils in public. The practice of wearing veils in public can also be traced to early ideas that smallpox could be transmitted simply by looking at a person sick with the disease. Therefore the infected were instructed to stay indoors or wear a veil if they ventured into public. vi One of the main streets in the heart of Charleston, the street was home to many shops and businesses and continues to be the home of upscale dining, fashion, shopping and antiques.
vii Willie Quilty, part of the Quilty family of Vermont viii The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist located on Broad Street in Charleston was burned in a great fire in 1861.Fundraising occurred for a new cathedral over the next 45 years and it wasnt until 1890 when the cornerstone of the new and current Cathedral was laid. ix Sisters of Mercy is a religious institute of Catholic women that was founded in 1831 in Dublin, Ireland. In Charleston, their full name was Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. During the Civil War, over 18 sisters aided in nursing prisoners of war throughout the South. —————
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